A tense shipboard mystery that builds to an absolutely thrilling tour-de-force finish.



From the Wine Dark Deep series , Vol. 2

A spaceship crew encounters a strange object near Jupiter in this SF sequel.

Several months ago, Cmdr. Calvin Scott of the spaceship Ulysses averted disaster on Ceres by outwitting would-be rebels who refused to refuel his vessel. He and his crew, consisting of Paul Arthor, engineer; pilot Sarah Samuels; Inez, the comms/IT specialist; Xu Zuoren, science officer; and medical officer Susan (nicknamed Doc), are now back on course toward Jupiter and their long-planned exploration mission. When a binary asteroid in the debris field surrounding Jupiter breaks apart, one object, the usual rock/ice asteroid, disintegrates, but the smaller and much brighter second chunk survives. It’s heading straight toward the Ulysses, and it’s accelerating. In the 10 days before it reaches them, Cal and his crew attempt to learn more about the object (Probe? Weapon? Alien life form or infection?), assess the possible danger, and come up with contingency plans. When the moonlet does arrive, it latches gently onto the Ulysses and infiltrates it with fractal, red-black tendrils that branch out and grow, taking over the ship yet causing little damage. Eventually the filaments begin redesigning themselves, embedding large structures in and around the Ulysses that have an enigmatic purpose and oddly compelling elegance. After finding a mathematics-based common frame of reference, the crew begins communicating with the weed when a new and terrifying development occurs. The alien entity takes the ship on a deorbit burn, seemingly dooming the crew—but the weed’s modifications to the Ulysses make possible an incredible journey downward through the gas giant’s surrounding turbulent maelstrom of magnetic fields, gravitational waves, diamond showers, simmering gases, and more. What the explorers see when they reach orbit again is nothing they could have expected.

Keith, creative director of a company that partners with NASA to design space-flight simulation exhibits, brings a well-informed imagination to this second volume of the Wine Dark Deep trilogy. The first book focused on Cal and his clever resourcefulness in getting out of a jam; in this outing, he also shows his leadership and good working relationship with the crew. Although their characterization remains hastily sketched, Cal’s shipmates now have more of a chance to display their mettle. As they do so, the novel deftly shows how thoughtfulness and deliberation are as important in navigating extreme situations as courage or bold action. The weed’s unknown intentions give the characters a compelling mystery to figure out, one that will have readers burning to know what happens next. Perhaps the story’s strongest section is the astonishing, vividly described trip down through Jupiter’s atmosphere: “The cerulean shades of the whipping atmosphere grew dark, mottled by turbinations of slate gray and streaks of obsidian. Another vibration hit. A shower of diamond ricochets washed over the ship, punctuated by a burst of lightning....Ahead of them clouds thickened, flowing like streamers of heavy cream.”

A tense shipboard mystery that builds to an absolutely thrilling tour-de-force finish.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73510-952-7

Page Count: 209

Publisher: Uphill Downhill Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.


Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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